May 15, 2011
In the first 5 chapters, Paul has dealt very throughly with salvation, conversion or regeneration, being a result of faith in Christ. He has pointed out that the natural man has no desire for God, and he must be drawn to Christ my God. He has made it abundantly clear that salvation brings with it a new creation; that is, new desires and a new life.
In Romans 6, he deals with water baptism. It is simply a picture of putting off the old man, and of putting on the new, as a law enforcement officer or military personal would put on a uniform. That uniform represents something, and should hold serious consequences if what the uniform stands for is violated.
We do have plain clothes law enforcement officers, and it seems we have many plain clothes Christians. They claim to be Christians on the inside, but their outside is the world's uniform.
Craig mentioned last time about Ephesians 6:
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
He ask at what point is this new clothing put on. Is it at water baptism as implied by Paul in Romans 6, and as believed by many good people?
That is a good question, which requires an answer.
Romans 6 has been greatly abused. As we saw two weeks ago, many good men and otherwise sound theologians use Romans 6:3-5 to say that babies can be, but are not always, regenerated at their "baptism", or that adults can be regenerated at their water-baptism. They then go into a great discourse to justify both sprinkling and infant-baptism.
There are two baptisms connected with the new birth:
Mark 1:8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
When is that baptism with the Holy Ghost? Does it take place at conversion, or at water-baptism?
1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Paul has made it clear that conversion is where the change takes place.
Conversion is when the individual willingly submits to the
call of God, which is not to day that this submission cannot take
place at the time of baptism.
Conversion is where the whole armor of God is to be put on.
Conversion is where the new uniform of Christ is put on.
Conversion is where the new life begins, and if there is no new life, there is no conversion.
2, Romans 6:3-5. Water baptism. Paul has spent his letter up to this point clearly presenting his case that water baptism only pictures what has ready taken place in the past at conversion.
Paul has made his case that water baptism is simply a public demonstration of death to the power of sin over the believer, and his new life in Christ.
Throughout the New Testament, the Spirit urges the Christians to live like followers of Christ. Paul's words here are especially strong in that urging.
V. 12. Paul develops the implication of conversion. That is, those in Christ have the power of the Spirit to break free of the former hold of sin over them.
"Do not let sin continue in your body as it once did before your conversion."
The believer has publically professed that he has a new master over him, Christ his Lord. The believer has publically professed that he now wares new clothing, Christian clothing. Now Paul urges him to live as befitting a follower of Christ. Paul also tells us that we can only live that life through the power of his grace.
V. 13. Paul compares our bodily members to the tools of one's occupation, or to weapons of warfare. (Marg arms or weapons) Included in these instruments is the faculties of the soul, such as the understanding, the mind, will, affections.
Stop presenting our members to follow the old habits of unrighteous actions.
Many times over, the Christian life is compared to warfare:
2 Corinthians 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Here we see two armies lined up against each other. One is aligned with the powers of darkness, the other with the Spirit of light. And the believer is held personally responsible as to how he uses his instruments of warfare. The tongue is only one of the visible instruments:
James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
An invisible instrument is found in,
Leviticus 19:17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.
1 John 3:14 ¶ We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
Each instrument we possess now belongs to the Lord. By faith in Christ and by the power of his grace to desire and do his will, each has been freed from the law of sin that held him captive at one time. The command throughout scripture is that these instruments are to be used in a righteous manner.
New life means new desires and power for our instruments of warfare to prevail in service unto God.
Vv. 14, 15. Sin is not completely dead in us, and still demands control. But in Christ, it has lost its absolute and uncontrolled power. Its dominion has been broken.
Not under law, but under grace
Now for one of the most misused passages in Scripture. There are a great many understandings for this section, most of which say that God's law, because of Grace, is no longer binding upon believers.
As with every passage of Scripture, these two verses cannot stand on their own. Every passage must be understood in its context. As many folks before me have said, A text without a context is a pretext. That is especially true here.
1. Paul is writing to those who know the law, Romans 7:1(for I speak to them that know the law,). If Paul was saying here what many attribute to him, the people of Rome would have dismissed him immediately.
2. Considering the previous 5 ½ chapters, we know that Paul cannot mean that grace frees one from being responsible to obey God's law. We do not need to review the previous chapters, for vv. 12 & 13 make it abundantly clear that regeneration requires obedience to God. Anything less destroys the Christian message of not only Paul, but of every New Testament author, including Christ:
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
So, what does he mean, not under law, but under grace?
1 6:1, Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live longer therein
Sin is the transgression of God's lawalways has been, and always will be.
1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
V. 14, So Paul cannot be saying here that God's law is no longer binding upon the individual.
2. V. 14, Paul defines the law in 8:2 as the law of sin and death that demands control over our members as instruments of unrighteousness as in v. 13.
Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
The law in 8:2 cannot refer to the moral law as given through Moses.
The theme of Paul's letter to this point has been this very thingdeath to the power of the law of sin and death that dwells in our mortal bodies, and new life in Christ; that is, his grace working to overcome the law of sin and death. All of this is pictured, but not accomplished, in water baptism, vv. 3-5.
V. 15, Paul returns to what he said in v. 1:
"Sins are forgiven, and we have eternal security by God's grace which was made manifest by forgiveness. So let us continue under the power the law of sin and death, so God's grace may about."
God forbid. How can a Christian even entertain such a foolish thought?
V. 16. Paul states the obvious. That is, we are servants, or slaves to the one we obey. Paul used baptism to illustrate death to sin and resurrection unto righteousness. He now uses slavery to illustrate which master we will serve.
Loyalty to Christ does not permit occasional crossing over to the other side, the side of darkness.
Note obedience unto righteousness, not obedience unto life. Continuance in sin shows a lack of life, or death. But continuance in obedience does not lead to eternal life. Rather, obedience shows the new life, but obedience does not lead to life.
V. 17. Paul thanks God not that they were servants of sin at one time, but that they obeyed the doctrine of the Grace of God, which delivered them from that servitude.
James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
V. 18. He continues to use the illustration of servitude. The gospel freed them from the hard bondage to sin, and freed them to walk in newness of life.
"Ye were made slaves to righteousness." You have simply changed masters, no longer slaves of sin (set free from that tyrant), but ye are slaves of righteousness. There is no middle ground, no "no man's land" in this war. (RWP)
V. 19, repeats v. 18. He apologizes for using the word servant, slave, or bondslave, but the word is a good word that describes the situation to those to whom he writes.
From the time the Jews were carried off by Assyria and then by Babylon, the slave markets thrived, as they were bought and sold as simple items of property to be disposed with as the owner pleased.
Israel had been promised that if they ignored the law of God, they would become useless to the world, to where no one would even purchase them in the slave markets:
Deuteronomy 28:68 And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.
The Jews had been carried off from their land to be slaves and servants throughout the world. Greece inherited the Jewish servants or slaves from the Babylonian Empire. Greece fell to Rome, and they became servants to the Romans. Though some Jews rose to power, there were still a great many in servant-hood and slavery.
So those to whom Paul wrote in Rome understood very well what Paul meant with the term servant or bond-servants. Actually, when our scriptures were translated, the term servant and slave would have been understood much better than it is today, for many people sold themselves into bond-service in order to get to the Americas.
They understood very well what it meant to be a servant under control of a master.
Historical note: Josephus tells us that when Rome conquered Jerusalem in 70 AD, that the soldiers got sp tired of killing the Jews, that they sold the stronger ones in the slave market. (Hundreds of thousands were killed when Rome finally conquered Jerusalem.) The slave market collapsed with the over abundance of Jews being sold, so the ones healthy enough were sent to the Roman mines, or sent as gladiators to die in the various circuses around the Roman empire.
V. 19, Paul uses servant twice: servants to the desires of the flesh, and servants to the desires of the spirit.
Infirmity, or defective spiritual insight.
Servants to uncleanness. That is, servants to sins such as moral sins, drunkenness, narcotics.
Example: Sadly, both men and women are servants to uncleanness and iniquity. The eyes of both men and women are full of covetousness and adultery.
Job 31:1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?
Our members, as our eyes, were servants of sin. Now, it is up to us to use them as servants of righteousness unto holiness. We know of those who enjoy reading ungodly romance novels as well as ungodly biographies. What we read influences us more than we realize.
Children's song: Be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little hands what you do. For the father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little eyes what you see...
Unto holiness or sanctification. Sanctification is a life-long process, and is produced by committing our body's instruments as instruments of righteousness in the spiritual war fare.
The responsibility of sanctification is illustrated by death, slavery and by marriage in chapter 7.
V. 20. When we served sin, we had no responsibility to righteousness. We can say here, "How can we expect an unsaved person to act like a saved person, when the Lord has no such expectations?"
V. 21, evidently, these saved Romans were being greatly confused by false teachers, and were being told that Christianity meant very little in changing their life-style. He is reasoning with them from scripture that any though of laying aside Christian duties, being a plain cloths Christians, is pure foolishness as well as sin.
Paul puts three questions before them.
First, how much good fruit and satisfaction did you receive as you followed the desire of the old man, the flesh? What good has he done for you now?
Second, nothing but shame and sorrow has followed you into your new life in Christ. A Christian is ashamed of his former ungodly deeds, and wishes he could go back and change many things.
Third, without God's saving mercy and grace, eternal death and damnation was the certain conclusion of those things you might have enjoyed back then.
Those things are ashes now, they bring shame now, and the end of them was death.
Why the desire to go back to them?
Vv. 22, 23. Here is the word servant again.
The servant if sin earns a wage, death.
But Paul reminds them that Christ's payment freed them from their servitude to the ungodly master of sin and death. Christ's payment made them his servants, which they are to serve with a willing and free heart.
They have been made free from their servitude to sin, and now are servants to God, which brings permanent fruit unto righteousness, which ends in everlasting life.
The illustration of a warfare between the desire so the flesh and the desires of the Spirit has been used. Now Paul spells out the wages of the armies in this warfare. The wages for following the army of sin is death. Sin pays its armies in full, and that wage is death.
However, God's wage is a free gift of grace. The gift is eternal life, and it is not a payment for righteous living, but of faith, which has been Paul's message up to this point.